The Bible details several women who have been exemplary and Rebekah is one of the first among them.The first account of Rebekah is given in her encounter with Abraham’s servant who was tasked with the charge of finding a godly wife for Isaac.
16 The girl was very beautiful, a virgin; no man had ever lain with her. She went down to the spring, filled her jar and came up again. 17 The servant hurried to meet her and said, “Please give me a little water from your jar.” 18 “Drink, my lord,” she said, and quickly lowered the jar to her hands and gave him a drink. 19 After she had given him a drink, she said, “I’ll draw water for your camels too, until they have finished drinking.” 20 So she quickly emptied her jar into the trough, ran back to the well to draw more water, and drew enough for all his camels. (Genesis 24)
Rebekah did fit the bill of one who was not only beautiful but also lived life with restraint. But she was much more. The wise servant used a test wherein only a generous woman with hospitality would do what he required. She gave him water and also generously watered his camels- exactly what the wise servant had asked of the Lord as a sign.
Soon the servant is narrating the story to Rebekah’s family and they decide to let Rebekah go with the servant to be Isaac’s wife. However, at the last moment, her brother and mother develop cold feet and try to stall God’s plan. The servant recognizes that delaying God’s will was as sinful as not doing it and plead with them to let her go with him. They finally decide to ask Rebekah to take a decision.
58 So they called Rebekah and asked her, “Will you go with this man?” “I will go,” she said. (Genesis 24)
One of the most decisive words you would ever find from a young woman! While her family urged her to stay, Rebekah, discerning the hand of God in all this, takes the difficult step of going into the unknown- in faith and in obedience to God. You cannot help but recall the journey of Abraham, when he was asked to set out from his family, holding on to nothing but the word of God. Yet, that very step helped Rebekah become the wife of Isaac and the mother of God’s chosen nation.
Isaac does not receive as much mention in Genesis as do his father Abraham and son Jacob. He was a quiet man, yet had a journey of finding God and knew what it meant to walk with the Lord. Unlike his father or son, he stands out as one who is not mentioned as having multiple wives. In all likelihood, the love and abilities of Rebekah made it practically unnecessary for him to even look elsewhere, though he lived in a culture where polygamy appeared to be the rule.
After several years, the time came for Rebekah to give birth.
22 The babies jostled each other within her, and she said, “Why is this happening to me?” So she went to inquire of the LORD. 23 The LORD said to her, “Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples from within you will be separated; one people will be stronger than the other, and the older will serve the younger.” 24 When the time came for her to give birth, there were twin boys in her womb. (Genesis 25)
The curiosity of Rebekah is found here and the wisdom she demonstrates in taking her question to the Lord is striking. She obviously knew what it meant to take matters in prayer to the Lord and also to receive specific answers.
28 Isaac, who had a taste for wild game, loved Esau, but Rebekah loved Jacob. (Genesis 25)
As the boys grew, we find parents taking sides. Esau loved his food and was even willing to give away the birthright to his older son for a meal, though it had been made clear (at least to Rebekah) that the promised race would arise from the younger son. We do not know if Rebekah’s preference for Jacob was a response to Isaac loving Esau. Favoritism by parents causes more harm than good. However, if choosing one among the two was needed, Rebekah got her choice aligned with God’s will, whereas Isaac got it all wrong.
11 Yet, before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad–in order that God’s purpose in election might stand: 12 not by works but by him who calls–she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” 13 Just as it is written: “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.” (Romans 9)
It was God’s purpose to bless Jacob and make the nation of Israel through him. But for the strong Rebekah working decisively, God’s plan would not have come about!
8 Now, my son, listen carefully and do what I tell you: 9 Go out to the flock and bring me two choice young goats, so I can prepare some tasty food for your father, just the way he likes it. 10 Then take it to your father to eat, so that he may give you his blessing before he dies.” (Genesis 27)
When Isaac ends up blessing Jacob, and Esau awaits the moment to kill his brother, again Rebekah, who pretty much knew everything that was going on in the household (unlike Isaac), works decisively to send her son away to Laban, her brother.
43 Now then, my son, do what I say: Flee at once to my brother Laban in Haran. 44 Stay with him for a while until your brother’s fury subsides. 45 When your brother is no longer angry with you and forgets what you did to him, I’ll send word for you to come back from there. Why should I lose both of you in one day?” (Genesis 27)
She sees another reason for sending Jacob away- to find him wives from a family that had some familiarity with God.
46 Then Rebekah said to Isaac, “I’m disgusted with living because of these Hittite women. If Jacob takes a wife from among the women of this land, from Hittite women like these, my life will not be worth living.” (Genesis 27)
Her statement reflects the state of mind of one who carved for herself a lifestyle quite distinct from the sinful lives of others around her.
Rebekah was a special woman- one who eagerly served the Lord and willingly submitted to Him, and in doing so, decisively changed the very course of history.
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